Tinubu’s Transport Discount for Travelers Only Partially Successful

Tinubu’s Transport Discount for Travelers Only Partially Successful

The Federal Government’s intervention to cushion the effect of hardships by slashing cost of transportation during the yuletide by 50 percent has been partially successful, an investigation by the Nigeria Democratic Report has revealed. On Thursday, the Federal Government announced that it had entered into an agreement with some notable transport companies namely, God is

The Federal Government’s intervention to cushion the effect of hardships by slashing cost of transportation during the yuletide by 50 percent has been partially successful, an investigation by the Nigeria Democratic Report has revealed.

On Thursday, the Federal Government announced that it had entered into an agreement with some notable transport companies namely, God is Good Motors, Chisco Transport, The Young Shall Grow Motors, God Bless Ezenwata and Area Motor, to give 50 percent rebate for ordinary Nigerians travelling by road between December 21, 2023, to January 4, 2024. The Government also declared free railway transportation for the same period.

But findings on the second day of implementation only show partial compliance among the bus transporters, thereby forcing many commuters to still pay huge amounts of money to travel to their destinations for festivities. But it has been very effective at the train stations.

While some Nigerians have welcomed the development as a timely intervention that will reduce their transportation costs, others have criticized the package as an unsustainable program that will not relieve citizens of the high transportation costs imposed by the removal of fuel subsidy.

Former presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general elections, Mr Peter Obi described the interventions as “masses-oriented policy”. He, however, raised doubts about the sustainability of the programme to further cushion the hardship in the country after the festive period. “If fully implemented, as reported, I consider this first-time intervention of the government, intended to help the masses, a step in the right direction. However, the major concern about such emergency measures is what follows afterward.

“The high cost of transportation and associated hardships are all well known. The question this seasonal palliative raises is that of what happens after the festive season. Is there a sustainable policy measure to cushion the masses from the current high transportation costs?”

Another question that emanated among Nigerians was the implementation of the new directive across the enlisted transportation companies in the country, including the railway stations.

To check the implementation of the directives, NDR visited the Babatunde Fashola Railway Station, Agege, Lagos State, to interact with the workers of the Nigeria Railway Commission and the travelers and to find out if there has been compliance with the government’s directive.

Speaking with NDR, one of the railway workers who refused to mention his name said the free ticketing has commenced since yesterday, (Wednesday) and people are applying for their tickets on the NRC official website. “As you can see, people are waiting for the train to arrive so they can travel without any payment as directed by the federal government”.

A picture of Babatunde Raji Fashola Train station, Agege.

A passenger who introduced herself as Modupe, a student, told NDR that she booked the ticket online and was not charged any cost. She added that the development was surprising to her, lauding the government for the intervention during the festive period. “When I heard the news, I did not believe it, but when I applied online and found out that it was free, I was really surprised. This is a good assistance for us that are travelling home during Christmas and New year, I hope the government could extend this beyond the festive period.

However, there were intending passengers who could not apply for the free train because spaces in the train were exhausted. Opportunity of free transportation also brought about an increase in the numbers of people travelling using the train. The free ride suddenly stimulated interest of more people to travel

Passengers waiting for the train at the Station’s waiting room

Expressing his dissatisfaction, Charles, an intending transporter to Abeokuta shared his frustration with NDR, stating that he has been travelling by the train before the free transportation policy by the government. “I did not know that people would be this many; I would have booked the ticket before coming to the station.”.

Partial Implementation at Motor Parks

In the same vein, NDR visited the motor parks to interact with commuters on the effectiveness of the 50% discount. It was, however, a different kettle of fish. A check at the God is Good Motor Park, Jibowu, Lagos, one of those accredited by the federal government for the free transport, we found out that passengers were still paying the actual price of transportation for their trips. Christiana, a passenger travelling to Abuja from Lagos who spoke with NDR, said she paid a sum of N46, 500. “There is no such thing as a 50% slash in my payment because I paid N46,500 for my transport to Abuja. How can they be talking about a discount when I paid that kind of money”, she lamented.

God is Good Motors

On the other hand, a staff of God Is Good Motors explained NDR that the plan is to refund their payment after the federal government gets to the company with the difference. “We are going to refund them when we receive a commitment from the government, for now, they are still making the full payment”.

In his interaction with the NDR, Mr Bamidele Gabriel Ajayeoba, the Jibowu Branch Manager of the Chisco said the company has already begun the process, saying passengers are paying half of the original cost of transportation. “For instance, we are collecting 27,000 for transportation to the east and that is half of the regular cost of transportation. You know we are in the festive season, the cost of diesel has risen up, but because the federal government has intervened, we have to bring the price down. The original cost of traveling is N50,000 or more”.

Passengers loading at Chisco Motors

In response to the question of whether they received incentives from the federal government for compliance, stated, “we have not yet received anything from the Federal Government, we are just operating with faith, hoping that they will fulfill their part of the promises.”

However, a visit to the Young Shall Grow Motor Park revealed that the federal government’s claimed transportation discount does not exist. A passenger who did not want his name mentioned said, “We are still paying our regular transport fare; nothing has changed. I hope things will have changed when we are returning in January.”

In the same light, Michael Ogueofor, a contract staff member of the Young Shall Grow told the NDR that there is no compliance with the intervention. “How can they be asking us to give a discount when the cost of fuel continues to rise and they are not doing anything about it? Look at these buses, is it not money we will use to maintain them? The intervention is not realistic, it is a joke. They should reduce the cost of fuel, which is a better palliative instead of giving this kind of directive. Look at the road now; you will meet police who will be disturbing us for money, why can’t the IG withdraw his men so that we can actually know that there is a palliative? It can not work”, he stated angrily

Two days down the line, there are still anxieties regarding the implementation of the intervention as most of the Nigerians are still coughing out higher amounts of money for their transportation during the yuletide.

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